Esperance Morris Book vol 2 - online book

A Manual Of Morris Dances Folk-songs And Singing Games With Sheet Music And Instructions

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so that we found his steps varied in many points from those of the old men who were members of the original " side." We are hoping that before it is too late this Headington " side " will be revived under Mr. W. Mark Cox, and will have amongst its members some at least of the old dancers. If so, we shall take the members of the EspeYance Club for a joint performance at Oxford. This should be a very interesting occasion. From time to time traditional dancers are invited to London, and quite recently Mr. Horwood, aged sixty-four, and old Mr. Trafford, aged seventy-five, came up from Headington and went through the dances with the members of the Esperance Club, who are responsible for handing on the dances.*
They both expressed themselves as delighted with the way in which the dances were interpreted. Speaking of Miss Florence Warren, Mr. Horwood said, " That young lady would have half London dancing in a quarter of an hour." Perhaps as it was his first visit to the city, he did not quite realise its size !
Old Mr. Trafford was a famous dancer in his time, some fifty or sixty years ago. Once he was challenged to dance " Jockie to the Fair " on an inverted beer barrel for a wager of £5. He expressed his ability to dance it on an inverted quart pot also. He won the £5 challenge, and was then asked to fulfil his boast for 5s.
" Did you do it ? " I asked. " Every step," he replied. Anyone who knows " Jockie " will, I think, acknowledge that Mr. Trafford is a real expert in morris dancing, and that his opinion on the execution of the dances counts for much.
Another old dancer of eighty-four had to show me the steps with his hands as he was too stiff to dance. He was delighted to think of the young people learning the dances.
Since the publication of the first volume of this book many interesting events have taken place, land-
* Since writing the above the traditional " side " has been re-organised with three of the old dancers as members, and they and the Esperance Club gave a very successful performance at Oxford.
New York.
February, 1911.
marks in the history of the revival of folk art. At Easter, 1910, I opened a holiday hotel at Littlehampton, of which I am one of the hon. presidents, for elementary school teachers who wanted to learn morris dances, folk-songs, and the children's singing games. Miss Warren taught the dances and games, and Mr. Clive Carey the songs. In less than a week after the issue of the announcement of the course of lessons we had filled the house, and the work was in every way a great success. In July and August a course of instruction was arranged on the same lines in connection with the summer festival at Stratford-on-Avon, the season ticket issued including performances of Shakespeare, plays by Mr. and Mrs. Benson's Shakespearean Company, and lessons in morris dancing, children's games, by Miss Florence Warren, and folk-songs by Mr. Clive Carey.
In October, 1910, the directors of old Crosby Hall, which has been re-erected at More's Gardens, Chelsea, placed it at the disposal of the Esperance Guild of Morris Dancers for a monthly practice of folk dances.
So that now there is established in the capital of the Empire a national centre, where all those who have learned the folk dances may meet socially and practise them, and where those who doubt that England possesses her own folk dances may come and see for themselves that the merry morris still lives in the hearts of the English people.
Another significant event is the invitation which came to Miss Warren and myself to visit America and begin the revival of folk music there on the lines on which it had been begun in England. I am writing this intro≠duction in New York, where Miss Warren makes her debut in a masque arranged by the members of the MacDowell Club. She also introduces to the ball which follows the masque three " sides" of morris dancers, men and women whom she has trained. We have had a wonderful reception, and are already at work training a number of school teachers who bid fair to rival our English dancers. They will illustrate lectures and help us in our entertainments while we are here.
Events move so quickly that on my return to England I find much to add to the above introduction. Miss Warren is still in America and has taken part with her troupe of American dancers in a performance given by Madame Genee at Boston. Madame Genee expressed herself very warmly with regard to Miss Warren, and said that her winsome personality had done much for the success of the movement in America. Now news
reaches me that Miss Warren is to marry an American gentleman and settle over there, and that she hopes to make herself the centre of and to organise a national movement in America on the lines of the Esperance Guild of Morris Dancers in England.
Another interesting result of our visit to Boston was that I was able to find some of the sea shanties published in this book.
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